Homily:26th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

26th Sunday B pater

GOSPEL: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

At that time, John said to Jesus,
“Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name,
and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.”
Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him.
There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name
who can at the same time speak ill of me.
For whoever is not against us is for us.
Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink
because you belong to Christ,
amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he was thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”

The Gospel of the Lord / Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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REFLECTION:
This Sunday’s Gospel is divided into two parts. The First part relates to us that the apostle John approached Jesus complaining to him that they saw a man casting out demons in his name and that they tried to stop him because the man did not belong to their group. “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him because he was not following us.” At once, Jesus knew where the reaction was coming from. We know that Jesus had given the twelve an authority to cast out demons (Mk 3:14-15). There were times that they were successful in driving out demons (Mk 6:13). But it was also reported they were frustrated for having failed to cast out demons. Like in Mark 9:14-29 – A man had brought them his son who was possessed by an evil spirit, but the apostles were unable to cast it out. This must be the reason why the apostles, most especially John, reacted that way when they saw a man casting out demons in the name of Jesus and was successful. It is so clear to me, that the apostles were envious of that man. They thought that since they belong to the group formed by Jesus himself they have the monopoly of working in Jesus’ name. But immediately, Jesus turns the table on the disciples, as if telling them that there is a need for them to pay attention to their attitude. They were envious of the man whom they considered an outsider and therefore he didn’t have the right to use Jesus’ name. The apostles should realize that the spirit of God is not controlled by any single individual or group of individuals or even an institution, no one has the monopoly of truth and the spirit blows where it wills. And so Jesus told them to leave the man alone and not to prevent him. “For no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us.” Here Jesus is teaching the apostles and us about the dangers of the sin of envy. Pope Francs talked about the dangers of envy. He said that it is a sin which fosters bitterness against our brothers, stifles our joy and inhibits us from truly praising God. It is a destructive anxiety which tolerates that a brother or sister has something that I have not.”
Story ( Envy by Tonne)
In Greek history we read of a young man who so distinguished himself in the public games that his fellow citizens raised a statue in his honor, to keep fresh the memory of his victories.
This statue so excited the envy of another rival who had been defeated in the races, that one night he stole out under cover of darkness with the intention to destroy the statue. But he only nicked it slightly. He then gave it a final heave and it fell – on top of him…and killed him.
The lesson of the story: Envy always harms the one who is guilty of it. An envious person always emerged a loser.
And so what must we do? Well, counter envy with charity. That’s the only solution we have – Charity! The only way we can rejoice at the success and gifts of others is LOVE!

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hope, always perseveres.

The second part of the Gospel should not be interpreted literally. We reflect on it with extra care. This particular text is a warning to those who would cause a scandal to a someone leading him/her to sin. “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.” To sin is horrible but to lead another person to sin is infinitely worse. Our goal therefore as Christians is to be a role model to our brothers and sisters that they may follow.
Then Jesus further said, “If your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off or if your eye causes you to stumble tear it out…” Again this should not be interpreted literally. Because if we do, since nobody’s perfect and we are all capable of committing sins, then many of us would be without hands, feet or eyes. Our Lord Jesus in a metaphorical manner just wanted to make a point. He wants us to take things seriously i.e. to do everything in our power to live a holy life for God. There is only one goal in life that is worth any sacrifice and that goal is to give ourselves over to God completely. In other words, whatever it is that gets in the way between ourselves and our following of God must be totally cut off. And that could mean anything, like our excessive love of selves, our love of power and fame, our love of influence, our love of wealth or that which become so part of our life but has become an obstacle to our following of the Lord. Living a holy life may never be that easy but it’s worth a sacrifice. If we could make a supreme sacrifice so as to avoid sin for the sake of our love of God, then we’ll experience in our life true joy and not just a fleeting and superficial one.

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Homily: 25th Sunday In Ordinary Time(B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

25th Sunday B Pater

A REFLECTION OF THE HEART
25th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
23rd September 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: MARK 9:30-37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,
but he did not wish anyone to know about it.
He was teaching his disciples and telling them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men
and they will kill him,
and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”
But they did not understand the saying,
and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest?
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”
*
The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

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REFLECTION:
Today’s Gospel text relates to us that for the second time our Lord Jesus predicted his passion and death. He said to his disciples that “the Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” I could have just imagined how Jesus must have felt at that time while he was discussing these things to his disciples. There may be a deep sense of loneliness in his heart while he was talking about his impending suffering and death. Given this scenario, it was ironic on the other hand that the disciples were preoccupied with discussing among themselves as to who among them is the greatest. In the Gospel, therefore, we were given this contrasting situation – i.e our Lord was talking about his passion while the disciples were in a competitive mode as to who among them should be considered number one in the Kingdom of God. And so Jesus took this as an opportunity to teach his disciples the meaning of true greatness. True greatness is found in our willingness to be “last and servant of all. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be last of all and the servant of all.”
While I was reflecting on this Sunday’s Gospel, what really struck me is the word “passion.” Jesus predicted for the second time his passion and death. Allow me here to give you my insights on the word ‘passion.’ The word passion has a double meaning. Commonly it refers to any intense feeling, whether of love or desire, delight or enthusiasm. It also means “suffering.” (From the Latin word “Pati” meaning ‘to suffer.’) Passion, therefore, both means Love and Suffering. In that case, there must be some connections between Love and Suffering. Henri Nouwen puts it beautifully, he said “Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because of those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. And if we want to avoid suffering, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving a someone is always worth taking.” Our Lord Jesus took that risk! Christ manifested the greatest price for love through suffering, he laid down his life for us. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) If you genuinely love something or someone, then you must be willing to suffer for it. In today’s Gospel, therefore, when our Lord Jesus was talking about his passion and death, it was at the same time his declaration of his love for us. The Cross is Jesus’ ultimate act of love and suffering.
But the Gospel serves both a challenge and a warning. Jesus challenges us to be always passionately in love. But we need to asses our hearts. The Gospel shows us a contrast between the “passion” of Jesus to that of the disciples. Jesus is passionately in love with the world and in love with people. While the disciples were passionately in love with themselves and in love with their own ambition. Jesus was not the only one who suffered martyrdom. There are so many people who experienced suffering and martyrdom, but what set Christ apart is its saving role. It was done for the salvation of mankind. “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Jesus wants us to be passionately in love. But it should not be a love just of oneself and one’s ambition but most especially a love done in the service of others. “Our capacity to give and receive love is what ultimately defines us. Nothing we have ‘accomplished’ in our life matters as much as the way we have loved one another. No matter what life brings our way, love is our highest goal, our most passionate quest.” (Alan Wolfelt)
If we are to love God, then we should love him passionately. He does not want us to love Him half-heartedly. He wants us to love Him with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.
Likewise, if we are to love our neighbors, then we should love them passionately. If we truly believe in the love of others then we should be willing to suffer for it. Love one’s neighbor as oneself.
“At the end of life, we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.” (Mother Teresa)
For Jesus, the measure of greatness is determined by our service and love. The more we are willing to serve and love, the more humble we become. For service, love and humility go hand in hand. Aim to be great that is motivated by humble service and love.

Homily:24th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr.Allen Baclor Abadines

24th Sunday B Pater2

A REFLECTION: 24th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
16th September 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: MARK 8:27-35

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly.

And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

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REFLECTION:

The Gospel of this Sunday centers on the identity of Jesus. The Gospel text relates to us an encounter of Jesus with his disciples at Caesarea Philippi. On the way to a village called Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked this question, “Who do people say I am?” And they responded some say John the Baptist, others, Elijah, still others one of the prophets. ” Caesarea Philippi, by the way, is a village which actually became the center of worship of false gods for thousand years, hence, this may inspire Jesus to ask his Disciples such question. He wanted to know how people regarded him. They were so wrong to think that Jesus was John the Baptist, or Elijah or one of the prophets. Jesus was of course not satisfied with the response he got, but that was to be expected. People really did not know him that well. They must have heard very little of him, except for the fact that they were amazed at his teachings as well as the so many miracles he performed. But what is of a more important and more relevant to Jesus is the understanding of his disciples. For quite a while, they had been with Jesus. They have heard Jesus’ teachings. They were first-hand witnesses to the so many wonderful works of Jesus. They were witnesses to how Jesus lived, they experienced Jesus’ spirituality. And so turning to his disciples he directed the crucial question, “But how about you…who do you say that I am?”. Jesus’ question offers them an opportunity to clarify in their hearts how well do they know the Lord. That question has become life’s ultimate question, for I believe, it was not only directed to the disciples but it is the same question that is being asked of us. “Who do you say that I am?” How are we gonna respond? How well do we really know Jesus? Well, it may be easy for us to respond now based on what we’ve learned from our Catechesis.But Jesus wants a personal, honest response. Knowing Jesus is different from knowing something about Jesus. In the Gospel, Peter replied, “You are the Messiah” Peter must be very proud of his answer. He got it right! But not so fast! For when Jesus began to explain to them that the ‘Son of man would have to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and by the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again,’ it was way beyond them. They cannot comprehend a suffering Messiah. Peter must have answered correctly – Jesus is the anointed one, the promised Messiah, but Messiah in his mind is a someone who would rescue Israel from the Romans. But Jesus’ mission is more than saving Israel. His mission is to save mankind from sin, to assure man of eternal life, to teach us how to live and to reveal to us God’s love. God’s love is a mystery. It is indeed a mystery why in the very first place he willed that his only begotten Son, must suffer persecution and death. If the disciples will not be able to accept the suffering Messiah, then it will not be possible also to accept their own suffering for Jesus’ sake. This is the same reason why there are people who lose sight of a loving God whenever they experience suffering in their lives. In the midst of trials, pains and hardships they eventually lose their faith in God. People are most especially tempted to doubt God’s fidelity when they experience setbacks in their lives. This is why getting to know Jesus deeply is indeed important. Let me elaborate this point by telling you a story:

A Father’s Protection (Author Unknown)

A father takes his son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, Sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. Moral of the story: Just because you can’t see God, Doesn’t mean He is not there. “For we walk by faith, not by sight!!!
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We come to know the love of God through our experience of the love of Jesus. Getting to know Jesus deeply, therefore, is to get to know God deeply in our lives. How would this be possible? It is by heeding his invitation “to come and follow me!” We come to know him personally only in living the lives he lived. To know Jesus is to walk with him. Following him is to imitate Jesus’ ways – his service, his sacrifice, his suffering, and his love.

Homily: 23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time(B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

23rd Sunday B pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
Sunday, 9th September 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Isaiah 35:4-7
Responsorial Psalm: Praise the Lord, O my soul!
Second Reading: James 2:1-5
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GOSPEL: Mark 7:31-37
Returning from the region of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.
They brought to him a man who was deaf and who had an impediment in his speech, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. Jesus took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is “Be opened.” And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one: but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
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The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTION:
As I reflect on the Gospel message of this Sunday i.e. St. Mark’s account of Jesus’ healing of a deaf and mute man, I am reminded of the story of a certain Vinicio Riva. If you are familiar with his name, Vinicio Riva was the man with a disfigured face whom Pope Francis hugged and kissed. Vinicio Riva is suffering from a non-infectious genetic disease, neurofibromatosis type 1. It has left him completely covered from head to toe with growths, swelling, and itchy sores. Because of his condition, he has long been accustomed to the unkindness of strangers. For instance, a few years ago he boarded a public bus in the northern Italian town of Vicenza. He went toward the nearest vacant seat but before he could sit down the man in the adjacent seat snapped, “Go away! Don’t sit next to me.” So he decided to stand all throughout the travel. There were lots of people on the bus, and they heard it all, but no one said a word,” said Vinicio.
One time, Vinicio traveled with his aunt and dozens of others from northern Italy to Vatican City, where they attended a morning public audience held by Pope Francis. Vinicio was in a wheelchair. Although the group was not expecting that they were so close to the Pope yet they were ushered in a corner in a front row. And when the Pope came close to Vinicio, he was surprised. He thought that Pope Francis would only give his hand for a handshake. But he did more than that. He embraced him tightly and kissed him. It was a moment Vinicio will never forget. The Pope showed no fear of his illness. Vinicio’s physical appearance is so grotesque that it takes great love to be able to do what Pope Francis did. That gesture from the Pope created an impact in his life. Later on , in an interview, Vinicio said, “when Pope Francis caressed me all over my face, I felt only love.” I believe, this is what today’s Gospel text is trying to give us as a lesson. It is an invitation for us to be compassionate just as Jesus is compassionate. If we really want to imitate Jesus then we should start with being compassionate with one another.
Today’s Gospel text relates to us, that some people brought Jesus a man who was deaf and who had an impediment in his speech. There are several lessons that this particular text gave me. First of all, the concern of people who presented the man to Christ taught us a lesson on compassion and service. Bringing the man to Christ shows a willingness to pay the cost – it would mean taking time and effort and or maybe some sacrifice. They want the man to receive healing from Christ. They were thinking of his well-being and that is kindness, generosity, a concern of others, service and yes, Love!
Second, we see here the compassion of Jesus. Here Jesus attends to the need of the man personally and individually. “Jesus took him aside in private away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue.” It was a personal encounter of the deaf and mute man with Jesus. An encounter he will never forget considering the fact that as deaf and mute he had no way of communicating with Jesus. But Jesus communicates with him in a personal manner i.e. through touch. Jesus touches him. His touch is powerful and transforming. The healing touch of Jesus demonstrates his power over everything including sickness, diseases, evil spirits, all sorts of affliction as well as sins. Jesus is never afraid to touch anyone even the lepers. He will never turn away nor reject anyone. He will always reach out and touch people. And his touch is consoling, healing and liberating. We can be the healing touch of Jesus to others. We can reach out and touch in love those people in need and suffering. A touch can convey a message of hope and encouragement. When we touch something we are becoming intimately involved with that thing. For example, a simple pat on the shoulder on a someone who lost a loved one could bring consolation. We can bring healing to a lonely soul. Jesus’ healing touch is always rooted in love and compassion.
Third, In the Gospel, the people recognized Jesus as more than a healer, that he was not an ordinary healer. That is why the last sentence of the Gospel tells us – “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” Could he be the long-awaited Messiah Isaiah prophesied? The people begin to wonder whether Jesus could be the Messiah. This is the reason why Jesus ordered them to tell no one. It was not the right time yet for Jesus to reveal who he truly is.
At the heart of this particular healing account is a beautiful message conveyed to us in one word – “Ephphatha!” which means “Be opened!” The deaf and mute had never heard a sound before and that was the very first words that he heard – Ephphatha! For me, Ephphatha is an invitation for us to be open to God and to trust him completely. It also invites us to be open to one another. Just as Jesus brings healing and comfort we should also be instrumental in this healing to other people. Like to the prayer of St. Francis – “Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

Homily: 22nd Sunday In Ordinary Time(B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

22nd Sunday B pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION
22nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
Sunday, 2nd September 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
Responsorial Psalm: O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Second Reading: James 1:17-18,21-22,27
Gospel Acclamation: Alleluia. Alleluia. The Father gave us birth by the word of truth, that we would become first fruits of his creation. Alleluia.
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GOSPEL: Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
When the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles. So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
Jesus said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘ These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then Jesus called the crowd again and said to them. “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile them, but the things that come out of a person are what defile them.
“For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
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The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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Reflection:

The evangelist, St. Mark, in today’s Gospel text relates to us that once again Jesus and his disciples received criticism from the Pharisees and some of the scribes. They accused Jesus’ disciples of impurity since they did not follow the ritual washing before meals. It was part of the tradition during Jesus’ time to perform the ritual washing of the hands before eating. Actually, this is not the first time that they accused Jesus of something. The Scribes and Pharisees were watching closely Jesus’ every move so that they may put up something against him Like, they accused Jesus of blasphemy. They accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard. They accused Jesus of associating with sinners and tax collectors. They accused Jesus of doing his ministry of healing by the power of the devil. And they accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath law. The Scribes and the Pharisees were always out to find fault with what Jesus does. This is the very reason why they noticed even a simple neglect of the observance of the law such as washing of hands before meals. They made the issue some kind of a big deal. But Jesus turns on them and gave them a lesson they won’t forget. For Jesus, they should not be so particular about something that is coming from the outside. What is truly wrong are those things that come from within the person. “There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile them, but the things that come out of a person are what defile them.” I don’t think our Lord Jesus was against the ritual of the washing of the hands per se. Good practices of hygiene are, of course, essential in our lives. Which means that washing your hands before preparing or eating food is indeed important. But what turned Jesus off about the Scribes and Pharisees is their hypocrisy. In Matthew 23:27, Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of bones of the dead and everything unclean.” What was being condemned, therefore, in this particular Gospel text is hypocrisy.

What is hypocrisy? Hypocrisy comes from a Greek word – hipokrites- which literally means a theater actor, like a performer acting under a mask. Hypocrisy is a strong word, nobody wants to be called a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who puts his best foot forward while hiding his real self. They are those who hide their true characters behind a mask of righteousness to receive the praise of others. Hypocrisy is when one supposedly cares and sacrifices for others while exploiting them. Some people say that people who do not practice what they preach are perfect examples of a hypocrite. But I think, it is more than that. Part of being human is that we commit mistakes. We have our weaknesses and shortcomings. Even St. Paul lamented, “Why do I do the things I hate.” Hypocrisy, therefore, consists not only of failing to practice what we preach but in not believing what we preach. Let me elaborate this point by telling you a story:
In a small town in America, a person decided to open up a bar business, which was right opposite to a church. The church and its congregation started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayed daily against his business.

Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a strong lightning bolt struck the bar and it was burnt to the ground. The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the bar owner sued the church authorities for $2 million on the grounds that the church through its congregation & prayers was ultimately responsible for the demise of the bar shop, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers were reasons for the bar shop’s demise. In support of their claim, they referred to the
Benson study at Harvard that stated; “intercessory prayer had no impact !”

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork and at the hearing, he made these comments:

“I don’t know how I am going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and we have an entire church and its devotees that does not.”
Today’s Gospel text serves as a warning to everyone. Jesus knew that there is a tendency for anyone to be a hypocrite. In Luke 20:46: Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the marketplaces, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets.” In contrast to the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees is the person of Jesus. Jesus is our model for Christian life – his love, his obedience to the father, his service, his being truthful and his humility. The antidote to hypocrisy lies in the practice of humility. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” Let us always ask the Lord to grant us the purity and humility of the heart. “For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours. Amen.

 

Homily:21st Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

21st Sunday B Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 21st Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
For Sunday, 26th August 2018
The conclusion of the Bread of Life Discourse
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Joshua 24:1-2a,15-17,18b
Responsorial Psalm: Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:32-5:1-2, 21-32
Gospel Acclamation: Alleluia, Alleluia. Your words, Lord, are spirit and life; you have the words of eternal life. Alleluia.
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GOSPEL: John 6:53,60-69
Jesus said to the people: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
When many of his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you, there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason, I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted them by my Father.”
Because of this many of his disciples turned back, and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

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REFLECTION:

We have now come to the conclusion of our little sojourn on the Bread of Life Discourse of Jesus as related to us in Chapter 6 of St. John. We have seen here that our Lord Jesus spoke at length about him being the Bread that came down from heaven. This is the reason why for the past several Sundays we’ve been reflecting on this particular theme. Leaving us the impression that this is a message of utmost importance. I was actually expecting some kind of a “fairy tale like” ending- “and they live happily ever after.” Like, after Jesus had given so much effort to explain about the Bread of Life, I was hoping that St. John will conclude that the people accepted the teachings of Jesus wholeheartedly. Considering the fact that they have witnessed the many wonders that Jesus did – his words and his deeds, not to mention the miracles he performed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a happy ending here. On the contrary, St. John gave us a sad conclusion – “Many of his disciples turned back, and no longer went about with him.” One by one, they abandoned our Lord Jesus simply because Jesus’ teachings were way beyond their comprehension. I could feel the sadness that Jesus must have felt at that time. It must be very frustrating. What he was offering was something of great value. He was offering them the truth. He was offering them life. Yet, it was rejected. A parent could probably relate to the experience of Jesus when there are times like after giving a litany of advice and reminders to a son or a daughter for guidance, the child would not listen but instead go on with his/her own selfish ways. It must be so frustrating to a parent when after trying to teach their child the right way, but he/she will go on his/her way ruining him/herself, leading his/her life on the road to perdition.

Our Lord Jesus, in great sadness and disappointments, watched each one of the disciples leaving one by one, going back to their former ways of life. And so he asked the Twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” To which Peter replied, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life?”

Did our Lord Jesus feel like it was just a waste of time and effort talking to people who wouldn’t listen anyway? Not at all! The good news is that our Lord will never give up on people no matter how much he was rejected. He will never get tired. He will keep on teaching, serving, showing us the way, forgiving, healing, giving and loving until the message might have reached the human heart. But Jesus could only invite. He will never stop us if we abandon him. He will never force us to accept him and his teachings. A man has the freedom to choose what he desires. There is a saying that “we can only lead a horse to water but we cannot make it drink.” Jesus will only show us the right way, but we are free to choose. A man should realize that our Lord is like a GPS, no matter how congested the traffic maybe or how unorganized the street layout maybe, but if you follow the direction it gives, still it will lead you home. And like to a loving Father, Jesus will never get tired waiting for us to come home. Remember what lesson our Lord gave us in the story of the Prodigal Son?

Have you ever realized that the best gift that God gave us is freedom? Man is free! In our human existence, we are always confronted with a choice i.e. a choice from life or death, light or darkness, good or bad, God or the evil one. If a man is not free then we could only be likened to an automaton. If we are to love God, we love him freely. It should be coming from the heart not out of fear, not an imposition nor just an obligation. At one point, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” It was a reminder that even Peter abandoned our Lord when he needed him most. And so Jesus is asking of us the same question, “Do you love me more than these?” There comes a time in everyone’s life when a decision must be made.

I admire Peter’s response to our Lord when they were asked, “Do you also wish to go away?” Peter replied, “Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life?” It was like telling our Lord Jesus, “Yes Lord, we are also struggling. We have our weaknesses and shortcomings. But we recognized your authority. You spoke the truth. We recognized that you are the Holy One, the Son of God. We may not comprehend things completely but we open our hearts to know the truth. We are here to listen to you and to learn from you. Help our unbelief.” To our Lord, that would be enough that we are opening our hearts to accept the truth and to learn from him. Faith is a grace-filled choice. It’s a personal choice. Have you made your choice?

Homily: 20th Sunday In Ordinary Time(B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

20th Sunday B Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 20th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
19th August 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20
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GOSPEL: John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the people: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever: and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The people then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in them.
“Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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REFLECTION:

Story: A little boy was preparing for his First Communion. In one of their seminars, the Priest explained to the children the importance of the Eucharist. The Priest said to them that ‘whoever receives the Body of Christ will go to heaven and will live forever.’ Although the parents of that little boy were Catholics they were not good at practicing their faith. They did not go to Church on Sundays to receive the Holy Communion. And the little boy was aware of that. And so when the little boy got home, he talked to his parents. He said, “Mom, Dad, today the Priest explained to us the importance of the Holy Communion. He said that receiving Communion will give us eternal life, it will take a person to Heaven one day. On Sunday, I will be receiving Communion for the very first time. I want you to receive Communion with me. If I am going to Heaven, I want you to come with me. I don’t want to go there alone by myself.” That day the parents went to the Priest for Confession and the next Sunday, they received Communion with their son. From then on, they went to Church on Sundays as a family to receive Jesus, the Bread of Life. All because of the request of their only son.

It has been for the past several Sundays that our Liturgy is inviting us to reflect on the Bread of Life Discourse of our Lord Jesus. This Gospel text is of utmost importance that is why for several weeks now we are being invited to reflect on this teaching of our Lord about him being the Bread of Life. And in today’s Gospel, St. John relates to us that Jesus’ listeners were once again stunned at his teachings. Jesus said that one day he will give them a special bread and that in reality, this bread is his own flesh. And so the people reacted and said, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus knew that it won’t be easy for the people to simply accept this teaching. There are people who expressed doubts in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It has been a challenge, even among us Catholics. To some people, it is irrational to think that bread changes to become the body of Jesus. But in order for us to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we have to look not just with our eyes but with the eyes of faith. And to comprehend not only with our mind but with our heart. At the Last Supper, Jesus said “This is my Body…This is my Blood.” Now, we know that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist flesh and blood, soul and divinity!

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we are actually contemplating on God’s saving love for his people. Jesus in his love for us sacrificed himself on the Cross and likewise offered himself to us in the Eucharist to be our food, giving us the strength that we may win heaven someday. Our pope, Pope Francis said, “The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation for heaven.” Heaven is home, it is our ultimate goal. When Jesus said that he is giving us his ‘flesh and blood’, it means that he is giving himself totally to us. God loves us so much that he wants us to dwell with him for eternity. John 14:3 “I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, so where I am you shall be also.”

When we receive the Holy Eucharist we allow ourselves to be transformed. A frequent reception of Communion will eventually make us more and more like Jesus. We become more giving like our Lord Jesus did. We become more forgiving as Jesus forgives. With humility, there’s an urge for us to serve as our Lord humbly served. And most especially we become more loving as Jesus loves.